1999-03-02 - D: Decrees of God
The Holy Alphabet Series
Psalm 18:30 As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
"Decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory, he hath fore-ordered whatsoever comes to pass, Ephes. 1:4,11, Rom. 9:22,23." --Robert Port
Some 350 years ago, Robert Port wrote the above in his small work on the Christian alphabet. It is a doctrinal statement about the decrees of God. It touches on the will of God and the providence of God also. Port is saying that God orders all things according to His will. Everything that comes to pass, does so, because God is pleased to either purpose that such will happen, or in the case of evil, permit that it happen. The later is known as God's permissive will.
The Christian faith 1999 style is one that shuns doctrine as something which divides believers. This is often true, but by avoiding the study of the doctrines of the Christian faith, Christians have become wimps when it comes to understanding their faith and being able to give a reasonable account for the hope that is in them. (1 Peter 3:15)
One of the things that becomes obvious when you read Christian authors from previous generations is that doctrine was not always a dirty word. In fact, these past generations authors felt, as I do, that in order to understand our faith, we must understand the doctrine it teaches.
Lots of folks find the doctrine of the will of God repugnant because they suppose that it takes away from the free will of man, or human freedom. This is a false understanding of God's will and decrees. There are two significant instances where our Lord Jesus sought God's will over his own. One when he taught us to pray, "… thy will be done …" Matthew 6:10, and second when He was to go to the cross and prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done." Matthew 26:39 The will of God was something that Christ, even though incarnate, submitted to. (John 1:14)
Part of being a follower of Christ is to seek to be Christlike. Jesus understood the doctrine of the decrees of God, the providence of God in history and the will of God. We must understand these truths also. We must embrace the truth that we serve a loving God who orders all things according to His plan, and sometimes this means not according to our plan. We must trust that God's will is best for us and that His decrees are to our advantage. In so doing there is freedom for the follower of Christ.
The Reformer Martin Luther, in 1530, was facing a huge crisis in his life. Such experiences can often cause even the strongest Christians to question the will of God, or his providence as a loving saviour. Luther rose above that in this instance and wrote the following to a friend.
"I have recently witnessed two miracles. This is the first: As I was at my window, I saw the stars and the sky, and that vast and glorious firmament in which the Lord has placed them. I could nowhere discover the columns on which the Master has supported his immense vault; and yet the heavens did not fall. And here is the second: I beheld thick clouds hanging above us like a vast sea. I could neither perceive the ground on which they reposed, nor the cords by which they were suspended; and yet they did not fall upon us, but saluted us rapidly, and fled away."
Soli Deo Gloria,